Tag Archives: Jamie Biggar

Vote “Mobs”

New Orleans We read daily about another global dVotemob_wintergardenemocratic “spring,” and we actually have an election nearby in Canada.  Some of you are stifling a yawn!, but it’s an important election particularly if another country can be pulled back from the conservative abyss through a timely realignment.  One of the most interesting tidbits emerging out of this election is talk of “vote mobs.”

A fellow named Rick Mercer, a TV personality in the north, caught fire with something he called a “rant,” which upon listening seemed just like normal commentary to someone living in the 24/7 roar of television speech in the USA, about all kinds of groups being targeted to turn out to vote, except the more than 3 million youth who could make a difference.  Some people watched it on YouTube and students started flexing their fingers on Twitter and Facebook and joining the call to vote.

Twisting the texting phenomena from a couple of years ago called “flash mobs” where friends would receive and then forward a text saying be at X in Y minutes and do Z, usually something silly in a public place, but, hey, anything to break the boredom of daily life is a good thing, students on more than 20 campuses around Canada started organizing “vote mobs.”

Our friends at LeadNow.ca did a great YouTube video with some students at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver that started and ended with a message to go vote in a bottle and then with the Police singing the song of the same name in the background preceded in lively fashion to run around, chase the ballot box, and dramatically make the point that it was time to go out and vote on May 2nd.  A “vote mob” is a GOTV rally with feeling.

John Anderson, ACORN Canada’s head organizer in British Columbia, forwarded me an article from The Star where several professors were quoted either affirming or denying whether these “vote mobs” would make a difference in the turnout or were just eager beavers who were already going to vote, proselytizing others to do the right thing.   The article featured two great quotes, one startlingly absurd, and the other dramatically insightful.

Tamara Small, a political science professor, wanting to outdo “Debbie Downer” said the following and I quote:  “The relationship between technology and voter turnout is that there isn’t one.”  Wow!  Is that startling or what?!?  TV, radio, telephones, computer databases generating turnout lists and targeting, all creatures and features of voter turnout and modern technology, have no relationship to each other.  If she had thought for a minute, she would be embarrassed, so let’s not pile on.

Jamie Biggar on the other hand, one of the co-founders of LeadNow.ca had a zinger:  “Vote mobs are a way to turn desire into action,” he said.  Who could disagree?

In fact turning “desire into action” is the motivating principle of much of all politics, and to tell the truth life itself.  All of which makes me root for “vote mobs” and anything else that will get people moving towards the polls, because despite the fact that the key to the right’s success everywhere has been proven to be suppressing the vote, the key to our victories in Canada and elsewhere in the world is our ability to get our people out to vote.  When we do so, we always win!


LeadNow in Canada

leadnowNew Orleans I had a fascinating and encouraging conversation recently with Jamie Biggar, the Vancouver-based executive director of what could be an exciting new political force for progressive issues and change in Canada:  LeadNow or probably more accurately www.leadnow.ca since the internet is going to be the main membership access to this weapon d’ jour.  Part of the excitement of the conversation that morning was the fact that LeadNow website was just debuting on line, almost as we talked, so my biggest challenge was paying close attention to Jamie on the while becoming the #4 follower on their Twitter account, the 300th and something Facebook fan, and recognizing some Canadian friends on the early scrolling comments.  Talk about ground floor!

LeadNow hopes to cover the ground originally broken in the USA by MoveOn, who invented the basic internet campaigning form when they “caught lightening in a bottle,” as ACORN Canada’s Josh Stuart accurately calls it, while Avaaz.org internationally and other formations in Australia and elsewhere have built from the ground up.  Jamie argued that LeadNow in Canada would be different in some fundamental ways if everything worked as they hoped importantly by linking the “air war” of internet campaigning more closely with the “ground war” by forging close working relationships with organizations and possibly creating “chapters” on the local level.  LeadNow is also trying to figure out how they might help build bridges on campaigns to create change past the partisan deadlocks of the multi-party parliamentary system.  Good luck with that!   The third defining objective they hope will be a more robust “voting” or membership input and direction system, which is more my bet, but they are right that this is an important evolutionary step forward for these kinds of organizations.

All of that is in the future as LeadNow pilots what works and where they can find traction and build their base moving forward.  Putting projects like LeadNow on the runway and getting them up in the air where they can pick up speed and support is a huge undertaking in itself.  I think one of the reasons these kinds of new social change formations are so very important is because they are self-sustaining organizations, relying on the members to fuel the tanks with their donations and therefore not accountable to donors or outside interests.

Jamie and his partners have a good track record with other efforts in the past with environmental issues, students, and others.  Getting ready to brave the frozen north in a couple of days as I prepare for another visit with organizers and others in Canada, I can’t describe how important it is for LeadNow to succeed.

My vote:  support now, LeadNow!